Thirty Muslims who volunteer with the United Hatzalah rescue organization in eastern Jerusalem underwent specialized rescue training by the IDF’s Home Front Command last week. The purpose of the training was to enable the volunteers, all fully trained medical first responders, to provide an initial response within their communities in the event of an earthquake and subsequent building collapse.
“The expectation is that in the event of an earthquake, those who will provide the first response are people from the community,” explained Eli Beer, the President and Founder of United Hatzalah. “These volunteers who live in East Jerusalem, are the most familiar with the environment, the residents, and the language. In the event of a mass-casualty incident such as an earthquake or building collapse, these volunteers have the advantage of providing help in the first moments until more resources such as the Home Front Command, United Hatzalah, and other rescue teams can arrive.”
Beer continued: “It is for this reason that both United Hatzalah and the Home Front Command see great importance in this type of specialized training that will enable our volunteers to respond quickly and effectively should a disaster of this type occur, G-d forbid. The cooperation between the IDF Home Front Command, United Hatzalah, and the Muslim community of East Jerusalem, as well as Arab society in general, has created a strong bond that is resulting in lives being saved on a daily basis. In these days of severe polarization within Israeli society, the connection that has been built through our lifesaving work gives hope to us all.”
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Muhammad Abid, a resident of Issawiya, said: “We underwent a specialized three-day training course during which we practiced rescuing trapped people from ruined or collapsed buildings and providing immediate medical treatment on the ground. I believe that, G-d forbid, in the event of a large-scale collapse following an earthquake, whoever is in the vicinity and has the training and the tools, will be the ones to provide initial relief until a more organized relief effort can occur, and that this course gave us the tools we need to do exactly this. We come from the neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, we know the area, the residents, and the buildings. In the event of a disaster, we will be on the ground first and will be able to assist those affected by the disaster. We can direct the population to a safe place, and initiate rescue operations to help the people trapped. We will start in the epicenter and work our way outwards conducting triage and saving those we can until other rescue forces arrive.”